Welcome to the MOOC Nursing Traditions and History in Europe
The Nursing Program at UiT The Arctic University of Norway has chosen to highlight nursing tradition and history as a key area in both in teaching, professional development and research. Just as studies of nursing practice and patient experiences today give a significant contribution to professional understanding and expertise, historical studies do the same. We therefore offer a ten ECT course in nursing traditions and history at the master's program in nursing. This MOOC is an essential part of the course.
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Welcome to the MOOC Nursing Traditions and History in Europe. My name is Åshild Fause, and I am associate professor in nursing at UIT - The Arctic University of Norway. I am also project leader and responsible of the content of this MOOC. At UiT we highlight nursing traditions and history as a central field in both teaching, professional development and research. Like close study of nursing practice and patient experience contribute to professional understanding and expertise, historical studies do the same. Historical study is basic research in nursing. We therefore offer a ten-credit course in nursing tradition and history at the nursing program. This MOOC is a central part of the course.
The MOOC is part of a collaboration with established nursing history researchers in the network European Association for the History of Nursing, working to highlight traditions and history as vital in the dicipline of nursing. We are happy to have researchers from seven countries share their knowledge through videos and articles in the MOOC.
So why have we made this MOOC? I would like to mention three reasons. Firstly, nursing is the largest occupation in the health sector, and the need for nurses will increase in the next years. There seems to be an insatiable need for nurses in Europe. Today there are about five million practicing nurses in Europe. And we have all met a nurse. We meet them from cradle to grave. And they take care of us when sickness and crises arise, whether in the hospital, in psychiatry, with kids or old people. Secondly, nursing has a long academic and professional history in Europe. To help the sick has always been a job, but nursing as a topic and profession has existed for over 150 years in Norway, and even longer elsewhere in Europe. In Catholic countries, nursing education goes back to the early 1600s. Nursing has historically been central to public health and individual safety, both in times of peace and during wars and epidemics, but this has not always been stated clearly and presented as significant. The reason for this is the third reason why we are making a MOOC, namely the many myths about nurses.
When nursing emerged as a dicipline in Northern Europe in the late 1800s, many myths about the dicipline and practice followed, and I will mention three. One myth is that everybody, at least women, can nurse the sick, and nurses have therefore had to fight to obtain vocational training. As you will see in various videos, they did this in Norway, England, Ireland, Italy, and it was many years before nurses' educational demands were met. The need for expertise was controversial. No wonder, since nursing was the largest professional group in any country's health care. And they made a mark on their nations, north, south, east, and west. In Scandinavia, nursing was essential to developing government welfare policy, and also had professional and religious traditions, with deep historical roots. The education of nurses was too important for social development to leave it to nurses and their trade unions.
Another myth is that professional nursing came from doctors needing assistants. So, nursing is medicine's auxiliary topic, without its own basis of knowledge. But European professional nursing is much older than clinical medicine. When doctors arrived in hospitals, nurses had been there for a long time. When modern hospital treatment evolved in Europe, nurses had central positions, and worked with head physicians to run the hospitals. It has long gone unsaid that nurses and doctors have been mutually responsible for evolving expertise on treatment and care. Nursing developed through the medical model, and gave nurses a knowledge base for understanding the evolution of decease processes, logical forms of treatment and potential consequences for the patient. But professional nursing was essential to the introduction of modern surgery. Through 24-hour observation, hygiene and organising daily care, nursing expanded its knowledge basis, and contributed to medical advancements. Nursing and medicine have been mutually dependent.
A third myth is that modern nursing originated in the late 1800s because of a large surplus of women in Western European nations, so that upper-class women would have a respectable profession. Nursing originated as employment for the women of the bourgeoisie. This is wrong. Head nurses were often middle class women but historians have shown that most nurses in various countries, including Norway, came from the lower classes, where women worked anyway. Importantly, the myths obscure nursing's scientific and social contributions. It would be more fruitful to study how social developments have spurred nursing's evolution as a dicipline and profession such as cholera, tuberculosis, and surgery. Focusing on nursing's work on curing disease, we see that their contribution was an important part of the basis of modern society. Past practice created the foundation for significant knowledge in today's nursing. Some of this knowledge is as significant today as a hundred years ago, and the profession did not evolve in a vacuum. But since the dicipline was largely conveyed through practice, it is hard to retrace, and with all the surrounding myths one cannot automatically assume that what is said publicly about nursing reflects what nurses actually did.
The topics of this MOOC range wide, but are organized in three main modules In the first module, we invite you to look at various nursing traditions, that in their various ways helped shape the dicipline and basis of knowledge We have chosen to focus on nursing as it emerged in Catholic countries, in Germany, focusing on the deconess tradition which later spread to Scandinavia, and we also focus on the British tradition, where Florence Nightingale was among the founders. The second module loks closely at the emergence of modern nursing from the mid-1800s in some European countries. Module three focuses on a few chosen practices that have been significant, such as nursing in hospitals, district nursing and wartime nursing. In no way do we aim to give a complete overview of the themes we have chosen. To study nursing practices, whether inside or outside of institutions and over different periods, is significant to create a basis of knowledge about continuity and change, with strong roots in a centuries-old tradition. Nursing as a dicipline and profession evolved in the area between tradition and modernity. The slogan that nursing should be a profession like any other did not emerge until the late 1970s in Norway. Some of these tensions and partly dilemmas we invite you to take part in through thematising and debating nursing practice in the context of social conditions, gender history, religion, and interaction with close collaborators, like doctors. This is what we invite you to take part in.×